ROME – Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony, relieved of his duties last month for mishandling and covering up pedophilia abuse cases, can still participate in the upcoming election for pope, according to a fellow cardinal who will take part in the conclave next month.
"The common practice is to use persuasion. There is no more that can be done. Cardinal Mahony has the right and duty to take part," Velasio De Paolis, one of the cardinal electors, told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
"This is a troubling situation but the rules must be followed," he told the newspaper, according to AFP newswire.
Questions over Mahony began after an influential Italian Catholic magazine asked its readers if Mahony should participate in the upcoming election for a new pope.
Famiglia Cristiana, one of Italy's most-read magazines, featured the question on its website Monday asking readers: "Your opinion: Mahony in the conclave: Yes or No?"
An online petition has also been started by an association of US Catholics, Catholics United, demanding that Mahony not be allowed to elect the next pope.
Mahony was stripped of his duties last month by his successor at the largest Catholic diocese in the United States. Recently released documents showed that Mahony and other diocesan officials maneuvered to shield child-molesting priests and keep Catholics unaware of sexual abuse in their parishes.
Mahony has said he looks forward to traveling to Rome to participate in the conclave of cardinals who will elect the successor of Pope Benedict XVI, who steps down Feb. 28. He took part in the last conclave in 2005 that voted in Benedict.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.